What You’ll Learn
- What Exactly is a “Herx”?
- Why Does This Reaction Happen
- What Symptoms Can Patients Expect from a Herx
If there’s one thing we routinely see our patients get wrong, it’s the Herx.
What is a “Herx”?
When the body undergoes extreme detoxification, it’s not uncommon to experience flu-like symptoms such as headache, fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, nausea, and even fever. This is due to the release of endotoxins (toxic chemicals) that fall off the cell walls after bacteria have been killed in response to treatment. To put it in practical terms, it’s feeling worse before feeling better and is common in patients with Lyme disease after they begin antibiotics.
History of the Herxheimer
While the Herxheimer reaction is not entirely uncommon, it is more prevalent in individuals who are unable to detoxify quickly, or in other words, it occurs when the body is overrun with endotoxins and the symptoms of their illness are exacerbated.
Named after Karl Herxheimer, a dermatologist who noticed worsening symptoms on the skin in response to treatment, this reaction can persist anywhere from 2-3 days to several weeks and can range from mild headaches to hospitalizations. So before you begin calling every side effect from a medication or detox protocol a Herx, know that a true Herxheimer reaction can be quite severe and in the worst cases, fatal.
“A true Herxheimer reaction is actually life-threatening…it can put you into a SERS. So a systemic inflammatory response syndrome that can literally kill you.”
Heather Lowery is a highly trained and skilled Physician Assistant who has the rare advantage of being able to speak from the patient’s perspective, having battled chronic Lyme disease, and undergone treatment at NYCIM.
Sharing from her personal journey from the depths of despair to her eventual triumph and return to health, Heather explains what a true Herxheimer reaction is, why the term is often misused in medicine — especially among patients, what one can expect from a true Herxheimer Reaction and how to minimize the side effects before treatment begins.
Connect with Heather
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